Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reality check

May-20th 08

It’s only May 20th and already things are looking up for tourists. We have two couples staying with us and again they are from California.

So as usual, rather than getting in Martine’s way in the morning I take a trip out on the water. It is so nice not to have to slide over ice and snow to get into the kayak.

There are times in life, when it seems one takes a step forward and two steps back, and today that was the case.

I had passed one of my favorite little islands, and noticed that it was different. It was different all right, but only superficially. The top portion of the island had been cut down as if a tornado had passed through and snatched up the whole thing, just leaving a few straggly branches sticking up from its crown, much like that of an old man's balding head, that had just had its cap blown off..

One would say that it’s all relative, and it is I suppose, but why so bold or bald I ask?

What is it about people that causes them to be so selfish that they would cut every stick down on a little island, when the coast is littered with fair sized trees, not to mention that it only costs $10 to get a permit to cut enough wood for the winter in over the road!

Now I have to give an explanation to my kayaking guest as to why the islands have been stripped of their trees.

I will have to fabricate some story about how folks are hurting around these parts, and how the cost of oil has sky-rocketed, and that in order to survive we have to resort to cutting every bough and stick that is within 10 minutes steam.

One of the first things that had inspired me upon my return to Newfoundland, was how the trees were coming back on the islands, and how nice and refreshing it was to see the hillsides covered with evergreens again. It brought pride to my heart and caused me to be reminded of the words in the Ode to Newfoundland, "Our pine-clad hills".

One would assume, that over the years, with oil and electricity being inexpensive or reasonably priced, you could heat your home, and you didn’t have to go hungry; now it’s a choice, oil, wood or food.

Now it is coming back around again. Just when I thought tourism would be a viable means of sustenance, along comes the desperate and inconsiderate once again to decimate the landscape.

It’s not as if we don’t have electricity or that wood isn’t readily available, it is just thoughtless harvesting of our islands' trees, and lack of consideration for nature and the beauty around us. It could be harvested with style and a little more discretion if you ask me, but who’s asking?

So needless to say I didn’t stay on the surf long this morning, so as promised, I would come back and take our guests to the museum.

My mistake, or was it?

Great folks, and lots of compliments about our collections, and how things were displayed. A lot of questions were fired my way, and most of the time I was able to land on my feet with a good answer, or one that fitted.

But the question as to why we were selling T-shirts with I "Club baby seals" on them left me in a tail spin.

I had to explain that they were purchased, for re-sale, in order to promote the harvesting of seals as being Green or part of our conservation mythology here in Newfoundland.

In order for the cod fishery to return, we had to kill seals as they are eating all the cod.

You know everything today has a political agenda, and what used to be a normal and healthy means of living, and in harmony with the sea and the land has been exploited by big business, and yes those on both sides of the seal-harvesting issue.

Personally I am of two minds and like the song “I looked at life from both sides now” I too can see and even try and understand both perspectives on the issues.

After a lengthly discussion on the ins and outs of the seal hunt and the upcoming American elections, the guests are on the ferry and the key to the museum is hanging at the Inn.

As for the trees and the seals, well that’s a story for another day.

All things will come out in the wash!

Another day at Dorim’s Wharf!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Just shagging around

It's Sunday, flat calm and the sun is about to peek its nose over the east horizon.
Yesterday I managed to launch the floating dock and install the ramp.

Today is ripe for kayaking and anything else that the creator prompts me to do.
So off I go. I've got just 3 hours before church, so why not go for it... I stoked the fire and added a few chunks of birch and with a spring in my feet down to the dock I go.

It's high tide and all the elements are in my favour.

Getting into the kayak via the floating dock is like slipping into a pair of Crocs, it just feels right.

As I glide down through the Reach, a smell of smouldering birch permeates the air, most folks are still cuddled up to the misses or the feater pillow.

Thinking today would be a good day to go south, and spend a bit of time out around the islands, so south it was.

Within a few minutes, the town was far behind and the only company was that of a few shags drying their wings.

The Shag is the smaller of the two cormorants found round the coast. From a distance this is simply a black cormorant but seen close the bird is fantastic. The black is a really oily and glossy shade with green and purple overtones. There is a little yellow on the base of the bill and the eyes are bright green.

It does not lay its eggs in a tidy cliff nest, but in untidy nests low on a sea ledge. Most are found in coastal waters and they feed by diving from the surface to catch fish.

The difference between a kayak and a motor boat is that you can really be still and be a part of the colony.

As I ventured farther south between the islands, the chop prompted me to keep closer to the shore. It is also lobster season now, and the costal waters have little colorful floaters with numbers on them. Everything from a plastic javex jar to a piece of painted pine is used as markers for the pots.

It isn't a bad thing really, as it is a sustainable fishery and seems to be well managed. Each fisherman knows his own.

I can truly understand why the fishermen love what they do. To be out on the waters in an open boat is unexpainable, it's much like being in harmony with the universe, as your soul oozes with acceptance.

As I paddle by the western point of Hunts island, I always get this eery feeling.

You see, the graveyard hangs over the edge of the bluff, with only a few feet away from the cliff, much like a great old aunt Beatrice, with cheeks in the palms of her hands keeping an eye on things. The mind is a wonderful thing and each new experience can be just that, or it can prompt memories from the past.

Today's experience too me back to a time in my youth when Captain Sandy Payne of Ramea's sea cadet corp used to say to us," Lads be careful what you do and what you say, 'cause there are eyes and ears everywhere. Always be on your best behaviour, 'cause if the living don't see what you're doing the dead surely will."

At that point I realized that I hadn't brought a watch and knew that it would take an hour to get back home, church was yet to be had for the morning, and that would be a different spiritual experience than the one I now have.

So sprinting around the point, passing the ferry wharf, and under the Smalls island bridge in record time, I was home before first bell.

So later on today when my son Michael called from Manitoba, and asked what I had been up to today, I said "Not much, just shagging around", and he said "Oh I see."

Just another day @ Dorim' wharf!